Energy and Entropy LO28647

From: AM de Lange (
Date: 05/29/02

Replying to LO28602 --

Dear Organlearners,

Terry Priebe <> writes:

>I was at a college graduation the other evening when a
>speaker challenged the students to become involved in
>the future of this academic community in both word and
>deed. One of the challenges was about money - not the
>huge gifts that become possible by fortuitous financial
>circumstances - but rather by giving one US $ per month
>... routinely... continuously... persistently... proactively.
>Where can this lead?

Greetings dear Terry,

Reading through this valuable comment made me think of something
similar in chemistry concerning entropy and organisation.

When coal is mined, some of the fosilized richness of life is obtained.
It is like that huge gift which you speak off. But let us think of that life
before it became fossilized.

The element carbon C is essential to all life and occurs in all natural
organic compounds. Let us now compare the standard entropy S
(not enthalpy or free energy) of carbon C, hydrogen H2 and methane
CH4. The H2 means two atom are combined to form a molecule
hydrogen. The CH4 means that a methane molecule consists of a
carbon atom in the center to which four hydrogen atoms H are

The values of the standard entropy S are (in joule/kelvin/mole):
C H2 CH4
5.7 130.6 186.2
Student's are told that S of H2 is much higher than S of C because
hydrogen is a gas while carbon is a solid. The molecules in a gas
move much more chaotic than the atoms in a solid which merely
vibrate. So they get the idea that entropy is indeed chaos. But is it?

Methane CH4 is also a gas. Now why is the S of CH4 more than
the S of H2? One mole of CH4 molecules move just as chaotic
as one mole of H2 molecules at the same standard conditions! It is
because there is more organisation in CH4 (it has 5 atoms) than in
H2 (it has 2 atoms).

Let us add the S of C and twice the S of H2 together to compare
it with the S of CH4.
S(C) + 2xS(H2) = 266.9
S(CH4) = 186.2
How is that possible the S of CH4 is 80.7 less than S(C) + 2xS(H2)?
The answer is in the concept of a "creative collapse". The carbon C
had to give up its solid structure in which only C atoms bonded with
each other. The H2 molecules had to give up their diatomic structure
in which a H atom bonded with a H atom. Both C and H2 had to
give up their respective organisations (and the entropy which goes
with it) before they could reorganise themselves in methane CH4.

Most text books will simply say that one mole CH4 has less chaos
than two moles H2. We may think of it in this manner, but the "how"
of getting less chaos never receives attention in these text books.

Now here comes into the discussion your "US $ per month ...
routinely... continuously... persistently... proactively".

Let our "chemical dollar" be the "C+H2" unit. Methane is the simplest
hydrocarbon gas. It is called an alkane. Remember its organisation
-- C in the centre surrounded by four H atoms bonded to it. The
next alkane is ethane C2H6. Here two C atoms are bonded to each
other. Each C is then surrounded by three H atoms bonded to it.
The third alkane is propane C3H8. Here three C atoms are bonded
as a chain. The two C atoms at each end are each surrounded by
three H atoms while the central C is surrounded by two H atoms.
The fourth alkane is buthane C4H10. It has a chain of four C atoms.
The two C atoms at each end are each surrounded by three H
atoms while the two central C atoms are each surrounded by two
H atoms.

Now let us compare their standard entropies once again.
CH4 C2H6 C3H8 C4H10
186.2 219.5 269.9 310.0
Are these increases, although irregular, telling about increasing
chaos or increasing order in chemical organisation? I think you all
can answer this question. Why are the increases not regular? Because
the chain is not linear, but has a fractal shape.

Most significantly is that for every "chemical dollar" added, the sum of
the entropies of each component
S(C) + S(H2) = 5.7 + 130.6 = 136.3
is far more than the increase by a CH2 unit (between 30 and 50).
The reason is again that creative collapses have to be made -- give
up "own-organisation" for each component (C, H2) and form
"different-together-organisation" for each next CH2 unit.

Terry, does this not let your mind wander over what the "...routinely
... continuously... persistently... proactively" mean?

>A great potential that I've seen within this LO group is
>a unique capacity to wrestle with these fundamental
>issues: to work to figure out and truly help our
>organizations, their members, and ourselves consider
>and benefit from the new paradigm Alan suggested.

We are creating "team learning units" almost like nature creates her
CH2 units. Time prevents me to tell how other units like CHOH
(for carbohydrates) and CHNH2 (for aminoacids) are created.
This indicates that nature follows a variety of biochemical pathways
and so do we. Perhaps we are creating the DNA of love-agape.

With care and best wishes,


At de Lange <> Snailmail: A M de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre Faculty of Science - University of Pretoria Pretoria 0001 - Rep of South Africa

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